The Black Echo by Michael Connelly is the first appearance of the author’s flagship character, LAPD Homicide Detective Harry Bosch, and it is a memorable introduction to an endlessly interesting and fascinating subject. Bosch is a Vietnam vet with baggage enough for two lifetimes, but he deals with it by catching killers – keeping the monsters from terrorizing the innocent. For him it’s more than a job: it’s a calling. The latest murder he’s sent to investigate sends echoes through his history, forcing Bosch to confront his past and make some hard choices as things quickly turn personal. The story clips along at a steady pace, and Connelly transcends the run-of-the-mill thriller by harkening back to such stalwarts of the hard-boiled detective genre as Chandler and Hammett. In doing so, the language pops and sparks like a live wire and elevates it to a poetry of literate pulp. Thankfully, this is only the first of many with Bosch behind the wheel and Connelly calling the shots. They make one helluva team.